Signs of the End Times: A naked man in Miami looked up from eating another man's face and growled at the police officer, then resumed chewing before being shot to death. A Maryland man ate his roommate's heart and brain. A New Jersey man threw his intestines at police. The Centers for Disease Control, having previously joked about a zombie apocalypse to get attention for disaster readiness, was forced to state, "CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead."
Here we are, facing the Summer of the Zombie. Reported sightings will doubtless outnumber confirmed incidents. I expect the National Organization for Marriage and Bishop Harry Jackson to blame gay people and abortionists. Bryan Fischer of American Family Association has already compared gays to cannibals.
Does this sound far-fetched? Perhaps you haven't followed the news. Holy madness is afoot. A minister in North Carolina says homosexuals should be put behind an electrified fence until they die out. A boy in an Indiana church is cheered for singing, "Ain't no homos gonna make it to heaven." A preacher in West Virginia is killed by one of the venomous snakes he uses in his rituals (see Mark 16:17-18). A woman in Georgia conquers flesh-eating bacteria by turning to Bible verses.
A CNN video shows church lady Stacey Pritchard talking in a nasty tone to Anderson Cooper in defense of Pastor Charles Worley of the electrified fence. She blames the controversy on people who twist her pastor's words into meaning exactly what he said. One inspired wag enhanced the video to show Pritchard being slapped by a cutout figure of Joan Crawford. Under questioning, Pritchard shakes her head in irritation and objects to what she calls "harping, harping, harping on electric fence, this and that. It's about the homosexuals, and it's wrong." Slap.
Sure, laughing at a video does not save a single gay child from reparative therapy or bullying, nor defeat an anti-gay referendum. But we cannot let ourselves chase the loons down every rabbit hole. People who cannot be reasoned with should not be allowed to prevent an adult discussion. If this is to be a choice election, we should vividly show that one of the choices is a party that has made itself hostage to people drunk on Armageddon.
Modern elections are complicated by people's ability to retreat into self-reinforcing niche markets that facilitate the creation of alternate realities. True believers like Ms. Pritchard regard any contrary information as demonic. It isn't just homosexuals they consider hell-bound, but most professed Christians. Whom are they going to believe – the pastor or their lying eyes?
The dark travesty of Christianity on display may be charged in part to sensationalistic media, including wicked columnists. But we are not making these stories up. As the homophobes and religious bullies lose ground in public opinion, they lash out in ever more extreme ways. As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan would say, deviancy is defined downward. Things that once would have been seen as crossing a line of decency are now tacitly condoned. Last week, Jay Townsend, campaign spokesman for Republican Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), said, "Let's hurl some acid at those female Democratic senators." In a June 3 apology, he called his words "easily misconstrued." The Hayworth campaign dismissed the flap as a "manufactured controversy" – before accepting Townsend's resignation June 4.
The threat this summer does not come only from zombies. Vampires are everywhere. The Dark Shadows movie is out; Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will soon be released; and a vampire capitalist has clinched the Republican presidential nomination. Perhaps I should warn NOM President Brian Brown.
We must steel ourselves. This election promises to get much more gruesome before it's over. As Vincent Price said in The Last Man on Earth, I'll need more garlic.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.